Friday, September 2, 2011

Spartak - CSKA Football match

Red Sox - Yankees, Bears - Packers, Carolina - Duke, Rangers - Celtic, that is the level of rivalry for this Soccer match. One of my fellow workers here has some Russian friends that asked if we wanted to attend when they found out my love for soccer. This is a huge game with all the goings on that surround European matches. I checked with our security folks and said just be careful and follow the normal "hide in the crowd" guidelines. Wouldn't you know the next day a notice came out to avoid the area due to "skin heads" and other security risks mainly rowdy fans, many of who take things way to far. We had tickets and were commited so off we went with assurances from our Russian guides that if we didn't look for trouble we would be fine. The Metro was as packed as I have ever seen it, full of chanting fans from both teams. The riot police were out in full force. There were several "incidents" at the metro stops and we saw some unfortunate folks being lead off in cuffs.
We only had one "oh shit" moment when a big drunk guy came against the flow of fans and grabbed a kids scarf right in front of me. Our friends pushed us to the wall and hurried us on. We passed Militia and Army stationed all along the entry to the stadium area. There were no more problems. The game was great ending in a 2-2 draw, probably the best result for a safe exit. They emptied the stadium a section at a time so we sat for over an hour before leaving. We avoided the Metro on the way out by getting a Gypsy cab (unsanctioned taxi) for the ride home.

My first European Match was an exciting time. I shot some very rough video and some photos, here.

Saturday, in the park, you think it was the Fourth of July...

Seems we spent the whole day in two parks and they were on opposite sides of town. We had our last softball game of the summer at the northern most stop on the Green line (that's Metro speak). After that the fearsome foursome went to almost the southern tip of the Green line to the Honey Festival. We found the park with some helpful locals, yes they do exists here. We entered Lipki Park on the NW end and walked almost to the Moscow River to a large exhibit area. Inside were hundreds of honey vendors. As you passed each vendor you had the opportunity to taste the honey with a small disposable stick. I'm not a big honey person but some were quite good. The vendors were from many different areas and used different flowers to make the honey. There was even some honey wine. Renee tried it and lets just say not good.

After getting our fill of honey we hit the shashlik stands for lunch then wandered the remains of the park. It was odd to find signage in English. There were several beautiful churches on the grounds in varying states of refurbishing or remont as they say here. There was also a log cabin once used by Peter the Great. We wandered for several hours and as we were leaving noticed a group of American Indian style dancers. There is the thought that Native Americans crossed the Bearing Streight when it was a land bridge from Russia. It was nice to sit on the Metro for the ride home after a long day of walking.

Lots more photos here!